Ansel at LeConte Lodge, Yosemite Valley, California, c. 1921. Collection of Michael and Jeanne Adams.

Conserving the Spirit of Yosemite: Ansel Adams’ Early Years in the Sierra Club

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There is perhaps no photographer in American history who stood for the ethos of stewardship for our shared environment as much as Ansel Adams, who over the course of his decades-long career did more than just introduce Americans to their wild places, but encouraged them to protect them.

(Ansel Adams) Remarks Before the Platform Committee on the Democratic National Convention, Chicago, Illinois, August 24, 1968

My name is Ansel Adams–photographer, writer and conservationist–of Carmel, California. l am a Director of the Sierra Club and a member of many conservation organizations, but the opinions I express are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization with which I am associated.

Ansel Adams, in the beginning

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A short Q and A with the author of a new book that explores the little-known early career of one of America’s most celebrated and beloved photographer. From Yale University Press Blog

Story Behind the Image: Monolith, The Face of Half Dome

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On the chilly spring morning of April 10th, 1927, Ansel Adams set out along Yosemite’s LeConte Gully to capture an image of the striking sheer face of Half Dome, one of Yosemite National Park’s most iconic natural features. Though Ansel knew the route well, having spent four teenage summers as the keeper of the Sierra Club’s nearby lodge in Yosemite Valley, his companions—his fiancée Virginia Best and three close friends, including his lifetime friend and fellow wilderness photographer Cedric Wright—picked carefully along the steep gully in the icy shadow of nearby Grizzly Peak.

Canyon de Chelly from White House Overlook, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, 1942

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On first traveling to Canyon de Chelly in 1937, only six years after its establishment as a national monument, Ansel Adams thought it to be the most beautiful place on earth. Astonished by the “beautiful, flowing patterns” of the sand dunes, he wrote to his wife, Virginia Best:
Ansel Adams, “Chinese Baptist Kindergarten”

Ansel Adams’ Most Famous Rookie Mistake

Today, it’s hard to imagine that one of America’s most celebrated photographers ever struggled to find work shooting photographs. But in the beginning, Ansel Adams was, like most young photographers, unknown, and in order to support himself as a photographer, he took on work as a commercial photographer.

Mount Ansel Adams, Lyell Fork

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This branch of the Merced River, the Lyell Fork, is one of the most far-flung regions of Yosemite National Park. To reach this secluded spot, intrepid hikers must traverse many miles of trail before veering off to bushwhack down an exposed ridgeline to grasslands below...
Ansel Adams, “Unicorn Peak, Thunderclouds”

“Unicorn Peak, Thunderclouds” by Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams captured this phenomenal image of “Unicorn Peak, Thunderclouds” with his medium format camera around 1967 in late spring or early summer. He was sixty-five at the time, and was hiking across Tuolumne Meadows with his Hasselblad when he discovered this view.